Catalonia warns Madrid that a “point of no return” might be reached in the relationship with Spain
Since the Spanish Deputy Minister for Budget threatened to intervene in Catalan budgetary affairs and in response to the recentralisation debate, the Catalan President, Artur Mas, sent a public warning to the Spanish Government and politicians in Madrid. Mas emphasised that “a point of no return” might be reached if the Spanish State puts obstacles on the Catalan Government’s financing. He also threatened that, if Spain takes action, Catalonia will react.
Barcelona (ACN).- The relationship between Catalonia and Spain is at risk of \u201Creaching a point of no return\u201D, warned the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas. In a radio interview on Thursday, Mas answered the recent general statements made by Spanish Prime Minister José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero and the much more concrete ones made by the Spanish Deputy Minister for Treasury, Carlos Ocaña. Ocaña warned the Catalan Government that the Spanish Government could block its capacity to issue debt in order to cut the public deficit.
Spain\u2019s aim is to set the public deficit for 2010 below 10%, which includes all the public administrations. The Catalan Government\u2019s deficit for 2010 is set at 3.6% of Catalonia\u2019s GDP and it is responsible of some 40% of the expenditure. The Spanish Government considers it way too high and warned the Catalan Government to limit its capacity to get new loans. Artur Mas claimed that the Spanish Government is cutting its own deficit by increasing the deficit of other public administrations. He insisted that the Spanish Government owes 1.000 million euros to Catalonia, which would set the Catalan deficit at around 3%.
Mas threatened Madrid that, if the Spanish State blocks Catalonia\u2019s capacity to get new debts, his Government has \u201Ca plan B\u201D, as it has \u201Cmechanisms to defend itself\u201D. \u201CThis is a Government that has a voice within Spain, but also outside Spain. We can tell many things\u201D, Mas emphasised. Mas continued, \u201Cwe are reasonable people but once we reach a certain point, we also know how to defend ourselves. What we will not do is simply watch while we get hit and continuously offer the other cheek\u201D, he added. \u201CEverything has a limit\u201D.
The 1.000 million euros controversy
Mas accused the Spanish Government of owing 1.000 million euros to Catalonia from the competitiveness fund for the Autonomous Communities. However, this fund is empty for 2010. In order to reduce its own deficit, the Spanish Government took the money from this fund, which is 10.000 million euros. 1.000 euros were for Catalonia for 2010, which were counted in Catalonia\u2019s budget. Therefore, Mas accuses the Spanish Government of creating deficit in other administration to reduce its own. The Spanish Government says that Catalonia will get this money in 2 years time, as the law applicable has a legal blank that, according to the Spanish Government, would allow paying in 2 years time. Mas insisted that if in addition of not paying now the 1.000 million euros, the Spanish State puts obstacles on the Catalan Government\u2019s current capacity to get new debt, relations will be seriously deteriorated.